Does Your Team Have a Playbook?

I remember the moment when I realized that it was no longer “cool” to walk to my friend Sharon’s house, knock on her door, and ask her if she could come outside to “play”. When you’re in the 7th Grade, it’s fine to walk to your friend’s house and knock on her door, but it’s certainly NOT fine to ask if you can “play”. I only found this out because she explicitly told me that she did not want me to use the word “play” anymore. I did not have strong social skills in the 7th Grade.

Somewhere in the process of moving from elementary school to middle school, the word “play” turned into “hanging out”, and once young adulthood became reality, this concept morphed into “going out”, and finally it turned a corner. I am now faced with trying to figure out how to not “be out” past my self-prescribed bedtime!

The Definition of “play” is simple. The word means “to take part in”. The idea of “taking part” in something shed some light on what it really means to PLAY. I discovered that what I needed in elementary school has not changed very much. Over the years, PLAY has remained constant in its nature, with a few branding changes along the way.


Two weeks ago, I sat in a class with executives from around the world. We had flown into Orlando, Florida to learn about values, vision and team building from the experts who have created the “Happiest Place on Earth”.Disney World is a place that makes even the grumpiest of us feel young, happy, alive, giddy, and even PLAYFUL!

So what makes that happen? Why does a group of executives, including a US Navy Admiral, an FBI agent, weapons manufacturers, and me, turn into a bunch of over-grown, out of shape kids standing in hour-long lines to ride roller coasters for 3 minutes?

The answer is simple. PLAY invigorates, motivates, and renews our capacity for the work we are called to do. At the Disney Institute, people from a broad spectrum of industries became my friends as we laughed and played together.  

Here’s the caveat, PLAY does not happen on a team without the leader intentionally planning for it. As much as I would like to lobby for every team taking a trip to Disney World, I know that is not realistic. What is doable and practical is creating a safe and pleasant environment that fosters a playful outlook on the vision and values of your organization.

You see, at Disney, the happy factor is intentionally cultivated through the careful guarding of the culture of Disney. Every employee, from the president to the cast member who picks up trash, has the responsibility to guard the Disney culture with four key principles.

The Playbook reads like this:


  • Practice safe behaviours

  • Take action to always put safety first

  • Ensure the safety of others


  • Project a positive image and energy

  • Respect all people

  • Exceed others expectations


  • Stay in character and play the part

  • Ensure that you are and your area of responsibility are “show” ready at all times


  • Perform your role so that everyone gets the most out of their visit to Disneyland

  • Use time and resources wisely.


The challenge for you as leader is to define what your culture should look like, and then craft the values that ensure the safety and sustainability of that culture. If you want your team to PLAY together, they need to know the rules of the game. The Playbook concept applies across all spectrums, from family life to corporations.

Jesus modelled this concept when He formed His team of twelve. Remember, PLAY is defined as follows: “to take part in”. They were “all in” across all aspects of life as they hung out, ate out, and went out together!

PLAY is the intentional action taken by the members of a team when they know what to do, why they are doing it, and are working for the same outcomes…This is what PLAY looks like.

Here are some rules for your playbook:

Love from the centre of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Romans 12:9-10 The Message

By Krista Penner

Krista enjoys life with her family in Mission, BC. She is actively involved in Leadership Development for Fellowship Pacific and in that role is privileged to travel across BC helping churches develop leaders. When not speaking or writing, Krista loves to spend time in her kitchen. Cooking is a passion that she pursues, even reading cookbooks like they are novels! She is married to Jerome and together they share three great kids, Linden, Erika, and Marty.

Fellowship Pacific